It’s not often I write a self-indulgent blog post but it’s not often I celebrate ten years in the media; an industry that is insecure, uncertain and constantly evolving.
It was 2003 when I first stepped into a real newsroom. I was just 14 years old, still at school, still impressionable and even back then, still certain that a career in media was for me. Just a week working voluntarily at The Solihull News confirmed that this was definitely the right career to work in. The pleasure of meeting new people every day, the thrill of being on the end of the phone when someone rang with a breaking story and the excitement that is seeing your name in print for the first time were unforgettable – and this was only the Solihull News! Further voluntary work followed to build up vital experience, before freelance work and later, full time positions on regional newspapers throughout the Midlands, national business titles, a stint in video and online news, a radio flirtation and a leap onto the other side of the fence and the beginning of a career in public relations.
During that time I was made redundant twice, moved city once to find new media opportunities and rose through the ranks from a reporter to an Editor and later, a PR Campaign Manager. Throughout that time I worked in newspapers, magazines, online, video and broadcast. Newspapers were reinvigorated, business was won and new ways of publishing news stories were found.
Ten years ago, it was so much easier to work in the media. Today, regional titles like The Solihull News are under constant scrutiny. Budgets for regional newspapers are falling and many well-known community titles are falling with them. People are changing the way they consume news and today, the majority of news is broken on social media as it happens, rather than in next day’s newspaper or that afternoon’s television broadcast. Some titles have kept up, some national newspapers have gone behind pay walls to make some money out of online news, and some regional newspapers have cemented a strong reputation for delivering instant news across social media. Some publications have switched to online video to save on printing costs and some clever trade magazines have started to hide behind separation charges for editorial as advertising becomes sparse.
Life is harder for journalists but it’s getting even more difficult for those trying to get their attention – PRs! These days you really do need to think like a journalist to get success. Your story has to be ground breaking, it has to be topical, and it has to be bringing something new to a reader. Your media has to be more targeted and your media relations solid in order to get your stories told to the right people. Evaluation has also changed. No longer do PRs get excited about the prospect of a big spread in a printed newspaper or magazine. This is still an achievement but just as exciting is getting the top story in a digital e-newsletter, getting your story told on the front page of a website or even having your client tagged in a post on Twitter from someone with thousands of followers.
Not that journalists have it that much easier. They have had to shift their focus to other areas of expertise. These days anybody can do the job of a journalist by setting up and maintaining their own blog so journalists are pushed to find even more interesting stories. Forward features are alive and well and the topics covered by the media in such features are more in depth and interesting than ever before. Reporters are so busy planning these features and learning about social media and digital news that press releases are often being printed verbatim, much to the joy of the PRs that write them. In many ways PR companies are exorcising more control over the news than ever before but they are still unable to do this without the support of journalists and those that print the news- whatever the medium.
Advertising has also changed. While companies used to happily pay hundreds for a half page advert in a local newspaper or trade magazine they now want their money to go further. They want to know who is looking at their advert and they want to see results in the form of new customer at the end of the phone. Who knows who looks and takes notice of an advert in a newspaper or magazine? Nobody – it’s not measurable like an online advert is. Online advertising is fast becoming the norm and publishers are constantly looking for the next best way of offering this service. Everybody is hanging out together on social networking websites and these offer a huge audience for a very small fee – one which can also be budgeted and capped. Print advertising is still a desired service but one that now often comes with online accompaniments.
Anybody who started working on a local newspaper ten years ago and is still holding a similar job has done well. They can certainly count those ten years as an achievement but is it as big an achievement as learning new skills and adapting existing skills in order to stay in the media industry after printed newspapers have died out? Have they enough experience in social media, digital media, video and radio to turn their skills to any job? The media is constantly evolving and nobody can safely guess what’s next for news.
Ten years in the media is a huge achievement but not quite as special, interesting or challenging as the next ten years could be!
This blog post was written by John Edden, Campaign Manager of Bridge PR & Media Services Ltd. John joined Bridge in 2012 after gaining considerable experience working on multiple media platforms throughout the Midlands.
To many, the description of the words ‘niche audience’ might be unclear. A niche audience can be briefly described as a small number of consumers/users within a specific sector which has a custom need for a product. Public Relations plays a vital role in reaching out to niche audiences.
One of the reasons PR is such an integral part of communicating with a niche audience is that it helps to create a relationship between a business and its customer.
Public Relations includes services like traditional PR, newsletters, and social media. These channels are in turn very important to the business as they help it to connect directly with its niche markets.
- Traditional PR – Although digital media has changed the face of PR, traditional media such as trade magazines remain important when communicating a message to a niche audiences. For example manufacturers typically still prefer traditional printed magazines to digital news sources so by placing relevant and interesting material in industry magazines, we can help manufacturing companies reach out to potential customers.
- Social media is integral to tapping into niche markets. Websites like LinkedIn allow for a business to find specific people they want to potentially do business with. For example, our client Pollite manufactures frangible airport masts, and they utilise Linkedin to find electrical contractors for airports across the world.
- Newsletters- These are a great way of reaching the exact people you want to target. Strong data lists are crucial here – once you have a highly targeted data list, then a newsletter is the perfect way for marketing your products directly to people likely to do business with you.
If you would like to find out more about targeting your niche markets you can get in touch with us on 02476520025 for some professional advice on the best route to take…
By Cynthia Mbugua, Second year Media and Communications student at Coventry University
In Public Relations, it is obvious to expect anything to come from it. This can be the good, the bad or the ugly. Any good PR firm has to be prepared to handle any kind of situation that comes along with it. At the same time, it is always good to be able to recognise some of the tips needed to avoid a Public Relations disaster.
1. The number one tip of how to avoid a PR disaster is to recognise that your employees are your social ambassadors. By this you should be able to know that brands, either small or large must face the fact that the people with your closest connection to your organisation are your employees. It is clear that your employees can either be your perfect brand advocates and evangelists, but they can also burn your reputation when they lose control on the social media networks.
2. It is always good to mitigate the risk of employee social media manual which clearly defines how employees should put the company’s messages across. As I said earlier, your employees are the highest percentage of your company’s reputation.
3. Another tip which should be considered is to think before sending off content, for example emails and tweets. Everyone working in the organisation should know that the heat of the moment is definitely not the best time to respond to your clients. During a moment of tension we tend to say things that we do not mean and this can in turn affect any kind of relationship with your clients and potential clients.
4. The issue of security in your organisation should be handled with exceptional confidentiality too. Safeguarding the reputation of your organisation should be everybody’s key responsibility . If your organisation has a clean responsibility then the more chances you are likely to get to work with more clients.
As a company that specialises in traditional industries like manufacturing, we are often being asked by our clients whether or not trade shows are still worth all the time and money you have to put in when committing to exhibit. For a long time trade shows have attracted a lot of stigma for experiencing drops in visitor numbers, asking for too high an investment for a stand booking and for failing to promote themselves. With reports over the last few years that the UK economy has become even more challenging for businesses to operate in, trade show expenses are ones that have been cut from many company budgets.
However, the manufacturing industry is on the rise. Recent Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) figures for the first quarter of 2013 inched down to 50.8 from a downwardly revised 51.2 in December 2012. That was just short of forecasts for a reading of 51.0 but for a second month running was above the 50 level that separates growth from contraction.
We saw for ourselves last year renewed optimism for manufacturing trade shows in the UK after attending both MACH exhibition and the Advanced Engineering Show at the Birmingham NEC. Both reported record numbers of visitors from all over the world and proved that trade shows can still be effective. So what do we tell our clients when they ask us if the large overheads of trade show exhibiting are justified? We tell them that when exhibiting is a part of your overall PR and marketing strategy then it can be a cost that can easily be recovered through new business.
As Farnborough prepares for the Southern Manufacturing show this week and subcontracting manufacturers prepare for Subcon exhibition in June, how many of these exhibiting businesses have visitors already identified as firms they want to find out more about at these exhibitions? How many exhibitors are visitors not already of?
When running well placed PR and marketing around trade show appearances, businesses can let visitors know of their booked stands and encourage people to approach them during the exhibition. Many trade magazines run extensive features around trade shows a couple of months before the show begins and businesses can capitalise on these features by submitting well placed editorial. Of course, nobody wants to read a news story that says a business is exhibiting at a trade show if that is the only information it reveals and Editors will always spike self indulgent stories. Concentrate on why you are exhibiting and shout about these reasons. Are you using the exhibition to launch a brand new product and offer people demonstrations of how this product works? Are you looking to break into a new market and meet with companies that already operate in these circles of industry? There is a story behind every trade show appearance if you look beneath the surface and it is these stories that the press want to receive.
Of course, if you send out regular newsletters from your company and have good data lists then this is an outlet that you can use to simply say ‘visit us at an exhibition.’ You can have all the bias you want for direct marketing material as it does not need to be instantly newsworthy and unbalanced like press material does.
It’s not just a case of press material though. These days, many trade show exhibitions run their own Twitter accounts and have their own discussion groups on Linkedin. By feeding into these with your own company social media you can help raise awareness of your stand that you have booked at a trade show. Social media channels are often the first places people visit when looking for information on a trade show and content from these social media websites are well picked up by leading online search engines.
Enjoyed a successful trade show? Then visit it again in your PR and marketing planning and start telling your stories of trade show success. If you picked up a new contract at a trade show, that is something worth shouting about or even if you received a record high number of visitors to your stand, people should really know about it! It is stories like this that help convey a positive image of your company and the manufacturing industry as a whole.
The next time you book yourself a stand at a leading trade show, consider what PR and marketing you can do to help publicise your appearance there and make sure you are considering trade show appearances in all of your PR planning. After all, its better to let people know beforehand why you are exhibiting so they can make sure they come and see you than get lost in amongst the long list of exhibitors and remain an unknown company.
Bridge PR & Media Services has developed a unique starter PR package aimed at giving companies appearing at trade shows an opportunity to see for themselves how effective PR and marketing can be around a trade show exhibition at an affordable price. For more information on this package, call us on 02476 520 025 today.
It is quite possible that right at earth’s creation, had Adam been a journalist and Eve a PR Manager, then none of us would exist today. The first two people on earth would also be the last, such is the awkward relationship between PR experts and journalists, according to many stereotypical views. In truth, it’s not like that – it never could be! Our jobs, responsibilities and interests are too similar and we co-exist to help each other out. Without PR people, journalists would spend an awful lot more time sourcing interesting stories and without journalists, PR experts would have nowhere to tell the stories of their clients.
At Bridge, we pride ourselves on good media relations. Just the other day we had a reputable trade publication call us up, asking for more stories from our clients. We build long-lasting, positive relationships with the media for our clients, investing time in getting to know them, understanding what stories they look for to include in their publication, and working with them to secure valuable coverage for our clients. To many, the way to get a journalist on side is to send them food or wine, or take them out to lunch. It’s not (although it is a nice thing to do) so put away those fancy canapés, put the fancy biscuits back in the tin, cancel your ‘informal’ meeting you had booked with your local newspaper and read our top five tips for strong media relations.
1. Understand the publication, its audience and its editorial team
Never mind if a client is telling you they want to be seen in a particular publication, unless you find a story from them that is relevant to that publication, it’s not going to happen – and journalists hate nothing more than being given inappropriate stories. Before pitching a story, read through the publications you are approaching and make sure the content suits their topic area, tone and style. Following up on previous topics covered is always a good way to get a journalist interested in your story as it shows that you are paying an interest in their publication.
2. Engage with journalists away from work
No, we don’t mean invite them out to clubs, get them drunk and make them sign a contract stating that they will publish your client’s story on pain of death. You don’t need to be a stalker to be sociable! Follow journalists on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn and respond to the discussions they start. We regularly feed into conversations with journalists on Twitter that they start, just being friendly without pushing any of our stories down their throats. Remember, journalists are human beings too.
3. Don’t harass journalists
So you’ve sent over a press release to a journalist? Don’t call them up a day later and ask them if they have used it. If they are going to use it, they will – bombarding them with phone calls will only put them off the idea. Would you like it if you bought your weekly shopping from the supermarket and they rang you up a day later and asked if your milk was tasty enough? Then they rang the next day and asked about your bread? You wouldn’t – so don’t do it to journalists.
4. Work with journalists strategically
Make sure you give journalists what they want. Trade press often release details of forward features – get yourself a copy and see what topics they are covering throughout the year. Relay it to your client and come up with a suitable story that meets the feature’s needs. Journalists are always looking for stories so make their job easier, and provide for them exactly what they want.
5. Have patience
Not everything you send to a journalist will be published – that’s just life. Sometimes there is no room, or other stories are just more important. That’s no reason to blacklist them and cross them off your Christmas card list – they are doing their job. You never know, it just might make it to the next issue instead. Journalists work to tight deadlines and often have a lot of work to do and a lot of PR agencies to deal with. No matter how many stories you have that are interesting, you have to remember you are just one of many.
Take advantage of our media relations skills and place your PR and marketing efforts in our capable hands. Call us today on 02476520025 and we can maximise your PR coverage through our media friends.
From Denise Taylor, managing director
Last week we were delighted to be part of the launch for the Midlands first creative consortium, of which we are a member. The key message of the launch was one that Bridge has advocated for quite some time now:
When done strategically, marketing can have a positive impact on business development, regardless of industry sector!
The event followed recent reports that 70% of CEOs have lost their trust in marketers carried out by Fournaise Marketing Group. In order for CEOs to really experience benefits Warwickshire Creative Fusion promotes the need to make marketing highly targeted, strategic, consistent, and creative.
We met a diverse range of businesses from throughout the UK at the launch, and they all enjoyed the series of linked seminars bases around nine different disciplines of marketing. They covered all aspects of marketing from conceptualising campaigns to making your product go international. I gave a presentation entitled: “The pen is mightier…” which gave tips on mining businesses for great content.
I was happy to present to a full room of delegates who were interested in learning about mining their businesses for good stories.
Key points from my presentation:
- There has been a seismic shift away from traditional print media to digital media. Sales of UK dailies have plunged by 20% in the past five years, however some trade magazines continue to fare reasonably well in sectors like manufacturing, but they also have a digital presence. This has completely revolutionised the PR industry and has opened up many more channels and opportunities for agencies and companies alike – but – it is a case of finding your way through all the noise and chatter.
- Good PR is about the content that exists in your business, and the content you create to tell your story. A survey of over 1300 marketeers by Outbrain on objectives of content marketing:
- Increase engagement: 52%,
- Increasing traffic to site: 42%
- Raising brand awareness: 35%
- Increased sales: 33%
- Improved SEO: 31%
- When having an online presence it is all about thought leadership and building reputation and credibility. If you can achieve this, then others will start to talk about your brand and products.
- Building campaigns around issues is creative and creates original content that the press will be interested in.A key tip is to create polls and stories and then your can use this information through a variety of channels.
We found that attendees left the event with a number of fresh ideas for their marketing campaigns. Cathryn Goodwin, Creative Engagement Officer at Creative Enterprise, founded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Coventry University said: “I gained some very useful tips about how to tell the story of my organisation, what we do and how we do it, and it was really good to talk to the supportive members of the team about how their skills could help our business and our clients. There was a good mix of people at the launch with a friendly positive vibe. We’re looking forward to dealing with the Fusion members again.”
The overall message from Warwickshire Creative Fusion is that when utilised strategically, the nine key areas of marketing; public relations, video production, design and branding, direct marketing, translation, print, photography, and web development can really deliver an effective return on investment, increase sales, and raise profit margins.
When flicking through the business pages of your chosen daily newspaper, scanning the pages of a business publication in your accountant’s waiting room, or studying an in-depth feature in a trade publication you subscribe to, you don’t often consider the journey of that article before it was printed on to the glossy pages in front of you.
A fundamental part of handling a company’s PR is their ‘Account Management’. We are regularly asked, quite rightly, what this actually entails. Account Management is the umbrella that constitutes for all the hard work that goes into boosting that client’s profile.
These are as follows:
In-depth research is required in order to write a significant and relevant press release that the media are going to want to use. Initially we carry out research into the products and services of our clients, and then we look at what is new/innovative/recent/newsworthy. Alongside this we will research industry trends and requirements from the press. This can be a lengthy process as there is a lot of content out there, and we find a way to hit the mark correctly.
Response to media requests
There is no possible way of determining how much time we will spend on a certain client’s activity. In fact each day in a PR office is quite spontaneous. We receive media requests from journalists sporadically throughout the week, which can consume the time you have originally allocated to another task. This then can lead to additional media coverage enhancing the profile of a client’s business further
Developing relationships with key journalists is the most fundamental factor in gaining coverage for a business. Much time is spent liaising with journalists to get them to recognise your company’s brand and services so that they are aware of whom to call on when they want information in a certain field.
Conceptualisation is integrated into all of our client’s Marketing Communications Strategies. This is the creative process that involves generating ideas for campaigns and stories in sight of raising the profile of a company. This is developed alongside the research element of account management.
Gauging your return on investment for PR activity is a grey area. Without paying extreme amounts for a full press clippings service then it is hard to know exactly every publication your content has been published in. Our team put many processes in place (Google Alerts, monitoring applications, individual searches, media relations) to decipher as much coverage as we can. We then measure this against the advertising charges for that publication/site. PR is arguably more valuable than advertising as it places you as industry leaders and experts in the field. The traditional method is to multiply the advertising value by three in order to work out an effective AVE figure.
Communication & Meetings
We ensure that we maintain regular contact with all of our clients, keeping them updated with activity and other things going on in their industry. We regularly make suggestions on things that they can be doing, i.e. answering questions on LinkedIn as an expert in their field. Every little helps!
We also ensure that we schedule in regular bi-monthly meetings face to face in order to keep everything up-to-date on their contract. Some of the best stories can come out of these meetings without the client noticing there is a story in something that may have happened. If two of our team members attend these meetings then it can take a significant amount of time out of our working calendar.
Many clients will hold events for various occasions. As their partner in PR we like to make sure we have a presence at anything like this. It shows support to our client and also gives us more of an insight into the type of company they are.